Halfway between Thunderfoot Fields and New Cifera, pressed into the northern mountain range, I found the entry to the Veiled Stair – the pathway into Kun-Lai. At the foot of the stone steps, a grummle awaited me.
‘This path leads to Kun-Lai. Good fortune to those who travel it to shop at grummle shops!’
With that odd piece of advice, I set off. Few travellers were along the roads of the Path of a Hundred Steps, but I met a lorewalker and some pandaren traders, as well as a few goats – much bigger goats than the ones in the Eastern Kingdoms. I was told that the Tavern in the Mists lay at the top of the Stair, a quiet resting place, but shady nonetheless. The air grew colder, and the trees became paler and lower. I had reached the Tavern in the Mists.
Though as entertaining as any other pandaren tavern, it had few visitors, as it always did, and I only dwelt long enough to warm myself up after the initial trek. The ale was good, as all Pandaren ale was.
I read the missive Lorewalker Cho had given me as I sat in the quiet inn. Around me, the faint whispers of dark dealings could be heard, but I paid them no heed.
Your companions that survived the battle with the Sha of Doubt are now in the care of Binan Village, home to Pandaria’s finest healers. It looks as though they shall recover their physical injuries.
The journey to Binan will take you up the Veiled Stair to the very doorstep of Kun-Lai Summit. I urge you to bring this missive to Mayor Bramblestaff in Binan Village. There, he can direct you to your companions.
I look forward to our paths crossing again.
I certainly hoped it would be in better spirits than when we had last met.
The Tavern in the Mists was built onto a little plateau that led out to the Spring Path, a scaleable entrance to the Jade Forest. The ground here was dirtier and drier than that in the Valley or the Forest – not quite parched, but not quite sated. The ground was slightly cracked, but never crumbled. Small patches of brambles and flowers dotted the area, and as I continued my trek up the Stair I saw the first truly exposed ground I had encountered in Pandaria.
Along the road, the path grew dead and barren from sauren over-raiding. Underneath the shadows of the mountains, I met Len the Whisperer.
‘Ah, a mage! Hello there. I am one of the men employed here to make sure the hospitality of the Tavern is not taken advantage of. North of here, a convoy was ambushed by saurok, and made off with some important merchandise.
Madame Goya, the leader of the merchanting business here, does not take kindly to stolen stock. If you retrieve these items there will be a finder’s fee – and it will be doubled if you will educate the saurok of Hatescale Burrow by killing their leader, Leechfingers.’
The Spring road led me up past a curious Titan-style gate, and the area became grey and clouded. Just below the gate I found the Hatescale Burrow, filled with saurok. The darkness of the cave gave me cover, and with some well-placed arcane traps I sowed a bit of dischord in their numbers, enough to reclaim a good variety of artifacts. I snuck into the back of the cave system, where the saurok shaman Leechfingers was performing a ritual. He was powerless when taken by surprise, and with the power of mirror images he never managed to hit me. Quite drained, I hurried out of the cave and back to Len, along with the reclaimed stock (all of which I suspected to be stolen, given the clientele).
‘Madame Goya will be pleased. You have the gratitude of her ladyship, and my thanks. The saurok have been unnervingly bold of late.’ He paid me, and directed me along the road to Kun-Lai, and I was on my way. The main road ended at the mouth of a huge cave, half-submerged in water.
‘Hey, lady. You don’t want to go through the Ancient Passage on foot today. The saurok are out in force, and they’re mighty territorial. Egg Shell and I were just about to set off to Binan Village up the river. I’m Brewmaster Boof. Care to join us?’ Seeing enough space in the boat of the pandaren and his grummle companion, I agreed. It was probably my only option of getting through for a while. We climbed into the Spring Drifter and set off.
‘Ever been to Kun-Lai before? It’s great. Long flowing farmlands. Beautiful mountains. And absolutely nothing dangerous whatsoever.’
Finally. Maybe I’d get a rest.
‘Hozen attack grummles.’
‘Well… yes. There are problems with the Hozen.’
Pfft. Hozen. Nothing too troubling.
‘Yes, and tigers.’
Oh, well as long as I stayed well away…
‘Darkhatched saurok are very dangerous, and very powerful.’ Egg Shell was referring to the saurok in the passage, that had decided to throw spears at us. What fun.
‘The spears are just for show. As long as we don’t get out of the boat or make eye contact or get hit by a spear then we should be fine.’
‘Saurok are very dangerous.’
‘It’s safe. I brought Lorewalker Cho and his strange companions up this way not so long back.’
‘The “Orc” tried to punch me.’
‘You had that coming. Waving your incense about in his face…’ We exited the cave, coming out into the light of the summit, and the Brewmaster turned at noises. ‘Wait a minute.. Something doesn’t feel right about this. Are those refugees? What’s going on over there? Do I hear fighting?’
Sadly, the answer to his questions was yes and yes, and we were confronted by refugees upon arrival.
‘What are you doing here? Don’t you know the Yaungol are invading Kun-Lai Summit?!’